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In the twenty-first century, waste has become a ubiquitous problem. Images of things like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch have ceased to become jarring, and pictures of overflowing landfills and statistics about plastic in the ocean have become so commonplace that they are “memed”. Yet despite increasing awareness and changes in policy, global waste production and its deleterious effects continue to rise. Dominant narratives surrounding waste tend to focus on how individuals can properly dispose of their waste, which, while certainly important, is not the full story. It doesn't question why we produce so much waste in the first place, and not much focus tends to be given to the question of where that waste ultimately ends up. This project explores the latter, questioning the commonly accepted notion of "disposability" and how that may translate onto places and even people. This project primarily focuses on institutions like the global waste trade, as well as the implications of the geographic locations of structures like landfills and incinerators, to paint a deeper picture of global waste that goes beyond sorting out recycling and buying "eco-friendly" products. The paper uses a wide array of sources from a variety of disciplines, geographic locations, and institutions to holistically address the issues it discusses. I argue that our alienation from our waste, at least in part, contributes to the continued creation of it, and that this alienation enabled by societal structures of marginalization and oppression.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License